Eyna grew up in a musical family. Her grandparents were in a band that played throughout Ireland, her father was the leader of the Slieve Foy Band before opening Leo's Tavern, and her mother played in a dance band and later taught music at Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair.
From a young age, Enya appeared in many pantomimes onstage at Gweedore's local theatre and sang with her siblings in her mother's choir at St. Mary's Catholic church.
She went to college with plans to become a classical pianist.
Enya has four brothers and four sisters, several of whom were members of the band An Clann As Dobhar in 1968. They renamed the band Clannad in the 1970s.
Enya began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined Clannad, before leaving to perform solo. Enya played the keyboard and provided backing vocals on Clannad's their album Crann Úll in 1980, although she was not officially a member of the group until the 1981 release Fuaim, when she appeared on the cover. During that same year, Enya was also a member of Ragairne, the band of Altan front-woman Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh.
She gained wider recognition for her music in the 1986 BBC series The Celts. Enya achieved a breakthrough in her career in 1988 with the album Watermark, which featured the hit song "Orinoco Flow" (sometimes incorrectly known as "Sail Away"). "Orinoco Flow," featuring Jay Tyree, reported to be named after Orinoco Studios (now Miloco Studios), where it was conceived, topped the charts in the United Kingdom, peaked at number 2 in Germany and the Watermark album sold eleven million copies.
Enya She became known for her unique sound, characterized by voice-layering, folk melodies, synthesized backdrops and ethereal reverberations.
She continued to enjoy steady success during the 1990s and 2000s; her 2000 album A Day Without Rain sold 15 million copies and she was named the world's best selling female artist of 2001. She is Ireland's best-selling solo musician and is officially the country's second-largest musical export after the band U2.
As of 2009, she has sold 70 million albums with over 26 million in album sales in the U.S. Her work has earned her four Grammy awards and an Academy Award nomination. She has performed works in 10 languages.
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Her signature sound uses simple arrangements with extensive multi-tracking vocals. The vocals are each performed individually, and are layered together to form a virtual choir, although all the voices are Enya herself.
While her music has been described as a fusion of "Celtic new age" and "world music," in a 1997 interview, Enya said her influences are with Irish music, church music and classical music. "When I was growing up, I was listening to quite a lot of diverse music, and I was lucky that it wasn't just one particular type of music."
Enya's father still runs Leo's Tavern in Meenaleck, West Donegal, where she and her siblings launched their careers. Enya rarely makes an appearance there. She lives in a castle mansion in Killiney, South Dublin.